Technology and Language Change (Blog Post 1 of 4)

In the chapter “Whatever” in Always On, Baron explains “as faculty, we have been trained to celebrate what our students have to say and encourage them to express themselves—literally in their own words.” (Baron 170)  Do you agree with this statement?  Should we encourage our students to express themselves even if that includes “text talk” and other slang in formal assignments?  As a teacher what steps might you take to encourage or discourage this type of writing?

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12 Responses to Technology and Language Change (Blog Post 1 of 4)

  1. Sushi says:

    I do agree with Baron’s statement that teachers should celebrate what students have to say and also encourage students to express themselves. I have always expected this sort of thing from my teachers, and I really appreciate it when they show that what I have to say and what I think, is important. I want my future students to know that they can express themselves in my classroom; however, I do not think “text talk” and other slang should be included in my students’ expression when it comes to formal assignments. I think it is acceptable for this expression to be present in other various assignments, but it would just feel wrong to see “text talk” in a formal paper. I believe that formal assignments should stay formal, but I still want my students to express themselves in those types of assignments, just not in a “text talk” sort of way.

    As a teacher, I would make sure my students clearly understand that I strongly discourage “text talk” sorts of slang for formal assignments but that I do not mind at all if they express themselves in that way for other assignments. I think it is important that such expression is not completely forbidden, but rather, that it has its own time and place. Students can express themselves in so many other ways besides Internet-type slang, though, and so I feel that setting guidelines for when it can and cannot be used would not be that big of an issue.

  2. jen-nay. says:

    Naomi Baron, in Always On, explains that “as faculty, we have been trained to celebrate what our students have to say and encourage them to express themselves – literally in their own words, (170) and I would agree with that statement, but with some conditions. To get students interested and involved in school, as teachers we need to allow them space for creativity so they can choose what they want to write about and how. When reading Carrie Secret’s take on teaching students who speak Ebonics, she says that she tells her students they may use Ebonics when writing but the final piece must be translated into English to be turned in (81). I think that this is how teachers should view “text talk” and new slang words and phrases.

    Baron says that “we owe it to our children to make certain they understand the difference between creativity and normative language use,” (175) meaning that it is our job as educators to make sure students know what is the appropriate language in specific situations. Children can use whatever language they want to express themselves in texts, blogs, or personal writings, but when it comes to school and more professional situations, certain language is required. In Erin Anderssen’s GR8 News: We’re entering a new era of literacy, we find out that there are some benefits of technology to writing and that one of these benefits is that students are writing more on their own time. This is great because students become interested in what they are writing and continue to write, and the more they write, the more they are practicing grammar and spelling. At first this might not be the case if they are using “text talk” and slang, but as they become more interested, they will want others to listen and their writing should become more formal.

    As a teacher, I would allow students to write rough drafts and speak to each other however they want, but would make sure they knew to present everything in Standard English. I would have them translate “text talk” and slang into formal English, and just like what we do in this class, I would have students use blog posts to write and share their thoughts.

  3. Pitt88 says:

    Yes, I definitely agree with Baron’s statement that we should celebrate what our students have to say and encourage them to express themselves. I value others’ opinions and find is extremely important when teachers value their students’ opinions as well. However, I agree with Sushi that “text talk” and other slang is inappropriate for formal assignments. I believe that students can certainly express themselves using Standard English instead of “text talk” or slang.

    As future educators, I find it extremely important that we make sure our students understand that in the context of school assignments that “text talk” is not permitted. It is our duty to prepare students for the future and force them to understand the negative effects that “text talk” can have on their success in the school system, yet still encourage them to express themselves by using Standard English.

    However, Baron states that, “By the time most youth are in middle school, they have a very clear understanding that different written styles (just like different spoken styles) are appropriate for particular settings” (175). With this in mind, I think is it important to give our students the benefit of the doubt when it comes to using “text talk” or slang in their formal assignments. But, Baron goes on to say that, “If students seem not to know that difference, it’s our obligation as parents and teachers to educate them…” (175). So, obviously if my students did not understand that there is a time and place for different ways of speaking and writing then I would definitely educate them further.

    I would discourage “text talk” and slang in my classroom, especially on formal assignments by first explaining why speaking and writing Standard English in a classroom setting is beneficial to the students’ learning then taking points off their assignments if it continued. If this situation occurred frequently, I think it would be beneficial to contact the student’s parent and set up a meeting to discuss and encourage Standard English in the household so that it would have a positive affect on their learning. Overall, I think it is important for students to understand that they can express themselves in many different ways, not just by using “text talk” or slang

  4. mmmk says:

    On Monday in class we discussed how students write more now than they ever have before. Writing is writing, and today’s students are interacting with language more than ever before. The back and forth dialogue in texting and emailing, even if more informal, keeps people engaged with writing. Older generations did not all write and now it is one of the most desirable skills in the work place in almost all positions. I think that we should encourage students to express themselves in all ways. In school they can learn to right persuasively, write memoirs, and analytical writing. I think slang is great as long as students also learn when it is appropriate. I think it is important for teachers of younger students to encourage high standards of email etiquette to lay a foundation. If the rules for writing become more relaxed as students get older, that may be okay as long as they have the foundation. I think embracing text messaging is important. Students will text no matter what; teachers can not encourage or discourage the behavior. I think as a teacher I want to appreciate and take advantage of all the non-academic interactions my students have with language including text talk. The more students interact with language the better off they will be; they can learn what type of language to use in specific situations and their minds and skills will develop with increased language usage.

  5. Supernova says:

    While I agree that we should celebrate personal expression and diversity, I feel Naomi Baron’s statement is borrowing trouble. Personally, I have written many papers and done various projects that involve formal writing, but have yet to turn an assignment in with “text talk”. The classes that I have most enjoyed have been those where the instructor allows the students to express themselves as they feel comfortable, values their opinions, and encourages everyone to participate. In these classes, there was both a freedom of expression, and awareness that the way you speak in class, write your term papers, and participate on discussion boards should follow the decorum and formality of a class.

    Baron stats that, “We teach our children not to pass judgment on regional dialects or non-native speakers. In the process, we loosen our grip-for better or worse-on a notion of linguistic correctness and consistency,” (170). I don’t believe this is true, because as long as you are teaching students how to write formally and in what situations specific versions of writing is acceptable; they should be able to thrive linguistically. Just as we have discussed in class, we all change the way we speak. Very different from how you write on your friends Facebook wall will be your conversation with your best friends, responding to a police officer, and the way you write an entrance letter to a college. Therefore, I would do what jen-nay has suggested; I would allow my students to speak to each other and write rough drafts in non-formal form, but specify to them that this is not acceptable for their final paper.

  6. lmwb53013 says:

    I believe that as teachers we should encourage our students to express themselves in appropriate ways on formal assignments. However, I agree with jen-nay that teachers should make sure that their students are aware as well as understand that different types of language are appropriate in different settings. Like Daniels states, “Speakers of all languages employ a range of styles and a set of sub-dialects or jargons” (Daniels 9) although some of the rules about when to use these styles and sub-dialects “are learned quite late in the game” (Daniels 10). I believe that this idea about language could be translated to written language as well. Therefore, as Baron stresses, it is up to both teachers and parents to facilitate children’s acquisition and understanding of these rules (Baron 175).

    I would strive to accomplish this in my classroom by assigning a variety of writing assignments, including both formal, report-type papers and creative-writing papers. For formal papers, I would require that students use Standard English and write professionally, as they would in business or academic situations later in life. For creative papers, I would make it clear that students could use whatever type of language they prefer, even if this included slang or “text talk.” I would also try to incorporate some other audiences (besides just myself) for the students’ work, so that they could become accustomed to thinking about their intended audience as they write. I would hope that over time “their voices [would become] more attuned to the people who will read their words” (Anderssen 1) and that they would become more aware of the various styles and the appropriate situations for these styles of both written and spoken language.

  7. Fay Mousse says:

    As with many previous readings and discussions in this course, we have discussed the importance of valuing and celebrating the diversity of language, especially within the classroom. While I believe that this is important, I disagree with Barron’s statement that “as faculty, we have been trained to celebrate what our students have to say and encourage them to express themselves—literally in their own words.” (Baron 170). We should not be encouraging our students to use “text talk” or other forms of slang in formal assignments. It is important that students understand that there is a time and a place for “text talk” and formal assignments is not one of them. In today’s society if a student were to submit a resume with language containing “ur”, “lol”, and “smh,” their resume would be quickly disregarded and put onto the discard pile. It is our responsibility as educators to prepare our students for their futures and make them understand the negative effects that “text talk” can have on their educational and professional success.

    Baron states that, “By the time most youth are in middle school, they have a very clear understanding that different written styles (just like different spoken styles) are appropriate for particular settings” (Baron 175). It is our job as teachers to help students understand the barriers for different language styles in particular settings. As a teacher I would allow informal language and “text talk” to occur within the classroom between students and on informal assignments such as creative writing assignments. Like Pitt 88, I think it is important for students to understand that they can express themselves in many different ways. We must teach our students how variations of both written and spoken language are appropriate in different circumstances.

  8. tcs32 says:

    I agree with Baron’s statement that we should be encouraging students to express themselves. I think that, as future teachers, it is our responsibility to allow our students to have a voice-their own voice- in the classroom. That being said, I think that this self expression can be conveyed in different ways. In my experiences in school, I have never felt that my freedom of self-expression was limited or restricted by formal writing. I realize that there is a time and place for slang, and that a formal writing assignment is not included in those circumstances. However, I feel that it is entirely possible for a student to express themselves formally, as well as informally, with “text talk” or slang. Formal writing, in my opinion, does not discourage a student’s voice; it simply allows them to express themselves in a way that may be different than their usual language.
    I really liked mmmk’s statement that “The more students interact with language the better off they will be; they can learn what type of language to use in specific situations and their minds and skills will develop with increased language usage.” I think that it is so important for students to be able to appreciate when different forms of language are appropriate, especially in a classroom setting. There is, of course, a time and place for more informal language, but letting students know when to use “text talk” and slang speech can prepare them well for the world outside of school. As a teacher, I would incorporate informal speech in my classroom, outside of formal writing assignments, and would be sure to discuss with my students when different language formalities are appropriate to use.

  9. Numeroff says:

    I disagree with Baron’s statement that “as faculty we have been trained to celebrate what our students have to say and encourage them to express themselves-literally in their own words.” Although sometime text language is appropriate, I don’t think it has a place in the classroom. I understand that when you are sending a quick text to a friend or just jotting down notes for your personal use, this type of language may be more efficient and therefore more desired for these activities. However, when this language starts to seep into formal writing that is when problems arise and the more comfortable students become with informal language the greater the chance of it seeping into their writing.
    I agree with Fay Mousse that if a person were to write text language or slang on a resume they would never be taken seriously. Unfortunately, as of now there are value judgments about different language that affect a person’s opinion of another person (Daniels 16). The existence of these judgments makes it even more important that as future educators we stress what languages are appropriate in what setting in order to prepare students for the future.
    Although I do very much agree with Baron that is important to encourage students to express themselves through writing, I do not think it is necessary to include “text talk” while doing so. Like tcs32 I do not think formal language “discourage’s a students voice” at all.

    As a teacher I would encourage students to talk amongst a small group before writing assignments at which time if they chose to they could use informal language to brainstorm. Then I would remind them at the end of this brainstorming session, since they would now be writing, it would be important to use formal language only. The clear guidelines set for language use will help clarify situational language use and hopefully better prepare the students for the future.

  10. ALS178 says:

    I agree with Baron that students should speak freely as they please and express their true thoughts but when it comes to a formal assignment I would expect my students to know that they should write in a formal manner, rather than “text talk”. We have all grown up knowing that we should use the proper form of “you” rather than the “text talk” form “u” while writing an assignment for class. I agree with Fay Mousse when she states “It is important that students understand that there is a time and a place for “text talk” and formal assignments is not one of them.” Explaining to your students that you want them to have an open mind while completing their assignments but to be aware of the context they are writing. They should understand that as a teacher you are preparing them for a future career where they will not be using “text talk” or slang words but formal writing, especially in a resume.

    Baron states that not only are her students speaking abbreviated words such as “brb” which means “be right back”, but also the older generations are acquiring the “text talk” language in their everyday speech (Baron 178). It’s obvious that our language is becoming more of a slang speech but as a future educator I plan to ensure that my students know the difference of what is correct and when it is the right time to use such slang words as “brb” and “lol”. I wouldn’t discourage my students from using these words outside of the classroom since it is becoming a more popular use in our generation.

  11. csmith292 says:

    After reading several of the previous comments, I can safely say that I both agree and disagree with Bacon’s statement that we should “celebrate what our students have to say and encourage them to express themselves-literally in their own words.” Text talk means a variety of things to different types of people. As we discussed in class, it can include things like “lol” and “ctn,” or can be everyday language. I rarely shorten anything that I text, so if I were to incorporate the way that I “text talk” into my formal writing, it would go unnoticed; for others though, almost every word would be affected. We live in a technology driven world: we like our gadgets to be small and to work fast. And so, when a lot of the younger generation texts, they like to shorten everything that they say (they lyk 2 shrtn evrytin they say).
    Maybe this all relates to the fact that new slang is created to separate generations from each other. But for what ever the reason, I don’t necessarily think that it’s a good idea for teachers to be celebrating the use of text talk in formal writing: “we owe it to our children to make certain they understand the difference between creativity and normative language use” (Baron, 175). Certain creative assignments would do wonders, as they would probably further engage students; however, students must understand that there is a time and a place for “text talk.” Someone mentioned in class that how you write depends on to whom you are writing: this statement holds value in the sense that you might send smiley faces to your friend as you “lol” but you wouldn’t do so in an email to a college professor or on a job application form.
    As a teacher, I would realize that “text talk” in social settings is normal, and that it shouldn’t be discouraged. I would try to implement it into a classroom project, because it is important that it not be entirely disregarded (as students spend so much of their time outside of school writing in this “texting fashion”).

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